Empathy is about understanding where someone else is coming from, including their feelings, experiences, and perspectives. As parents, we can model empathy in our daily lives by putting others’ needs before our own (ie, helping a friend move, saying sorry if we hurt someone with words or actions), and demonstrating that we value community members, whether it be through taking out the garbage, carrying groceries for a neighbor, or simply raking leaves for an elderly person. URL https://empathicparentingcounseling.com/blog/why-does-my-toddler-eat-paper/

Research shows that children whose parents empathize with them have stronger social skills and fewer behavioral problems. But how exactly does parental empathy affect children’s emotions and behavior? To find out, researchers invited mothers and their toddlers to participate in a longitudinal study at two points approximately 1 year apart. Mothers completed the Infant-Toddler Social and Emotional Assessment (ITSEA; Briggs-Gowan & Carter, 2001), which measures a variety of parent-child interaction behaviors. The seven items assessing empathy were rated on a 3-point Likert scale (0=not true or rarely, 1=somewhat true or sometimes, and 2=very true or often). The criterion and construct validity of the ITSEA has been established, and results showed that cognitive empathy (ie, awareness of another’s distress) was positively related to children’s social competence but was moderated by both authoritative parenting (ie, warmth and reasoning) and inhibited temperament (Findlay & Jensen, 2006).

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When your child is upset about a disappointing event, empathizing with them can help them feel cared about, understood, and safe. It may not stop the crying, but it will help them work through it by validating their illogical and impulsive thoughts and feelings. And that’s important to their long-term social adjustment and mental health.

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